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Regarding the New York Times Readers Center

To: Clifford Levy
CC: A. G. Sulzberger


I have been a loyal New York Times reader for more than 45 years. I had two newspaper routes in Cleveland as a boy, one for a morning paper and one evening, and the first and most important thing I bought with that money was the Times on Sunday and Tuesday.

I am troubled by the description of the Readers Center position here:

In particular the following line.

“Collaborating with our marketing department to showcase the value of Times journalism.”

The job of the Public Editor as I am I think most readers have understood it, was to be an advocate for the Readers and to publicly take the Times editors and management to task when they screwed up, to put it plainly.

The job of the Readers editor would seem to be the opposite of that, going by the posted description.

Having the new Readers Center working with marketing is crossing a red line in journalism which should never be crossed.

I should not have to remind you, but the present circumstances indicate the necessity of so doing:

Journalists should:

– Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.

– Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics

The Public Editor position went a long way to restoring trust and the Times brand inflicted by inaccurate reporting and lack of editorial responsibility and oversight inflicted by, particularly, the false reporting in the run-up to the Iraq War, and it wasn’t just Judy Miller, though you sacrificed her, not undeservedly perhaps, and Jayson Blair.

Firing the Public Editor and then hiring a new “Readers Center” with the same brief, except for responsibility to represent the views of advertisers rather than those of readers, is a terrible idea in every way, moral, ethical, journalistic, and inflicts incalculable damage already on the Time’s already damaged reputation. The excuse that firing the Public Editor and eliminating that position was a cost-cutting measure seems untenable given that a new role, with a similar brief, was immediately established. With the critical and all-important distinction noted above. Going from being responsible for the insuring the journalistic integrity of the Times to overtly and self-admittedly being a shill and a mouthpiece for upper management and advertisers.

These are self-inflicted wounds, folks, what are you doing? Are you shorting the stock and hoping to make the Times fail? Or is this simply another unforced error committed for no conceivable good reason?


Henry Edward Hardy
former Senior Systems Administrator
Tufts University*

* institutional affiliation for identification purposes only


Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, need more information, or wish to discuss the issue further.

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy


4 July, 2017 - Posted by | ethics, journalism, New York Times, news, newspapers, Readers Center, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Well, from the perspective of someone kind of on the economic bottom, I see this everywhere. I also see a lot of people saying “f**k it” because of money. I totally understand if your poor and need to bit your tongue because rent has to be paid but it seems to be spreading everywhere. Like a mental virus. I go to news websites and I am smart enough to discern the advertisements that try to look like news from real news but I know that possibly most people will click away and take it as truth. It really pisses me off seeing ads try to look like a news story on CNN or anywhere mixed right in randomly with actual stories. There are fake news sites popping up all the time, I suppose they bring in a lot of ad income?

    I have noticed over the years there is massive misinformation everywhere. One thing that comes to mind is TV news, local or national. Anything they are talking about that I happen to know a lot about, is almost always wrong. Local is especially horrible. So I am probably right in saying most of the things I do not know anything about are probably wrong as well.

    Most people take it as truth, and if its interesting to them (its all kind of made for entertainment value) they will discuss it with other people and its plugged into their brains as facts. It seems like at the root of it all is the drive to get money, capitalism. Each organization has to compete with the others, trying to get more money, and the more entertaining something is the more its picked up. It doesn’t leave me with much of a hope for humanity feeling. The profit motive alone might not be enough if we got rid of it somehow – the culture of wanting to be entertained over all else…. how do you change that?

    Comment by Tom Brothers | 12 August, 2017 | Reply

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